A fast food worker sacked for getting pregnant has negotiated $27,000 compensation.
Her manager took her off the roster telling her that her pregnancy made her “unreliable”.
Fast food worker sacked for getting pregnant
*Michelle worked for the fast food outlet based in Queensland when she became pregnant.
During a meeting in December 2018, which Michelle secretly recorded, her manager told her that her pregnancy made her “unreliable”.
The manager also said Michelle made things “hard” for him and for the business when she called in sick before a shift.
On the day in question, Michelle had been unexpectedly admitted to hospital with severe morning sickness.
“I was shocked because I didn’t understand what the issue was.
“I had called in sick one day because I was in hospital due to my pregnancy, and I had given him notice by sending him a text the night before to let him know that I was going to be unavailable for the shift.
“Then he took me off the roster, and called me in for a meeting and said that I was unreliable and I was making it hard on him and the staff because of it.
“It’s not that hard to get someone to cover a shift.
“He made me feel like I had done something wrong by getting pregnant in the first place.”
The manager can be heard on the secret recording telling Michelle she will have to come to work, even if she is sick.
He also admits to previously taking another pregnant worker off the roster.
And furthermore, he also admits to sacking another worker because the worker had family responsibilities which required him to pick up his child from daycare.
Under the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Act 1991, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against a worker based on:
“I was perfectly fine to do whatever shift I was given, but he made it out that I was unable to do the work,” Michelle said.
“Just because we’re pregnant, we’re not disabled or anything, we can still do everything and work and we don’t need to be treated differently to everyone else.”
Discrimination Claims files claims
Discrimination Claims filed two complaints in the Queensland Human Rights Commission for:
- unlawful pregnancy discrimination, and
- unlawful impairment discrimination.
Michelle says her manager left her feeling humiliated and suffering severe depression, stress, anxiety and hopelessness.
After the Human Rights Commission escalated the matter to the Industrial Relations Commission, the fast food company agreed to settle.
It agreed to pay Michelle:
- $2,000 for economic loss, and
- $25,000 general damages.
Staff training critical for businesses
Miles Heffernan from Discrimination Claims described the employer’s conduct as “appalling”.
“It’s shocking that this company failed to properly train its staff in discrimination,” he said.
“The secret recording of the conversation between Michelle and her manager is damning.
“It clearly shows he has absolutely no understanding of discrimination laws.
“It is unlawful to treat a worker unfairly because they fall pregnant or take a temporary absence from work because of illness.”
Michelle, who has now given birth, says she took the legal action so other workers don’t experience the same treatment.
“I don’t want them to do this to anyone else, and make someone feel like they’ve done something wrong simply by falling pregnant.”
* name changed
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